Phone call at center of town hall meeting

August 14, 2009 2:44:40 PM PDT
Chances are you've seen the image of U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Houston on her cell phone during a recent town hall meeting. We're now hearing from the woman who was talking when the congresswoman got on the phone and she says the representative doesn't exactly have her facts straight. More than 300,000 people have seen the clip on YouTube.com and many more are talking about it. So Congresswoman Lee went on CNN Thursday to explain herself and that left a local woman scratching her head.

A local woman went to get questions answered about national health care reform and found herself thrust into the national spotlight.

Tracy Miller never thought asking Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee a question would create a national firestorm.

"I wanted to know how she was going to answer the question she was ignoring," said Miller.

As Miller began asking a question, the congresswoman took a call on her cell phone.

"There is no way she could hear me, with everyone saying, 'She is not even listening.' Then when she started talking into her phone, I knew she couldn't be listening," said Miller.

The video exploded onto the Internet, making a splash on YouTube.com. It was even picked up by several cable news outlets, where hosts questioned Congresswoman Lee.

"I dialed the hotline number to give a better answer. I said to the audience, they may not have heard me, that I am trying to get an answer," said Congresswoman Lee in one of her cable interviews.

Miller disagreed.

"She was getting phone calls and finding out who was in the room, that she needed to say hello to and that's what I believe what was going on right then. After I was done talking, she would say, 'I would like to welcome,'" said Miller.

And that is only one area where their stories differ on what took place at the town hall meeting. Congresswoman Lee says they are now buddies and will hang out together in Washington D.C.

"Now I consider her a friend. I invited her to Washington," said Congresswoman Lee in a cable interview.

That was news to Miller.

"There was no invitation to go to Washington D.C. or even see Sheila Jackson Lee at her office, let alone D.C.," she said.

Miller says she approached the congresswoman after the meeting and had a cordial conversation, where Lee spoke to her children about the tall buildings of D.C.

"That's the first time I have talked with her in my life. So that's a mischaracterization to say that we are great friends," said Miller.

When asked if an apology was in order, the veteran Texas politician didn't think so.

"Because it was not disrespectful, because I was seeking information for the very town hall I was in. You just heard me say that, if offense had been taken I wish that it had not been," said Congresswoman Lee.

However, Miller wasn't looking for an apology.

"I don't care about an apology. I just want like anyone else right now for my voice to be heard," she said.

Miller maintains that despite taking the call, Congresswoman Lee was gracious in allowing constituents not in her 18th congressional district into the meeting. Miller says she lives outside Lee's district.

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